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Ferguson

This originally aired on The Final Straw radio show.

Let’s talk about Ferguson MO. A Black unarmed teen was shot repeatedly by a white officer while Brown had his arms in the air. Since then, an angry community has been protesting, which led to small scale rioting and looting. To talk about the situation in Ferguson honestly though, I think we’d have to talk about it in a broader context. A couple years back I wrote a piece called, “On the Morality of Killing Police” which is still posted at SeanSwain.org. I wrote that in response to a good friend of mine being brutally and unnecessarily assaulted by a St Louis police officer. I argued then that it’s a legitimate question to ask whether defense of human life necessitates the pro-active and pre-emptive killing of police.
The fact that I wrote that for posting two years ago demonstrates that the rampant problem of sadistic and over-aggressive trigger happy cops in the St Louis area is not a new phenomenon. And to revisit my argument from that article, consider: if that cop who committed the most recent shooting had been found dead in his police cruiser after I wrote that article, Michael Brown would still be alive. Read more »

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Anger Management

This originally aired on The Final Straw radio show.

I enrolled in Anger Management to get the second of two programs I need to complete in order to get out of solitary. I had already taken the Money Smart program, which indoctrinates convicted felons in the benefits and virtues of using the U.S. banking system. I got my certificate even though I included a critique of the banking system on the back of my homework, along with cartoons of masked characters with cans of gasoline around burning banks.

So, Anger Management would give me my second certificate and qualify me to get out of solitary. How it works, OSP offers a million programs you can watch on TV and mail in your answers. Thing is, none of these programs count as the two to get you out of solitary. It looks good that they offer these programs, but to get to lower security you need one of select few programs that staff teach in the unit. And thats not easy to get because there are few staff and there are only six phone booth sized cages for six prisoners to take each cycle of programs. Hundreds are waiting. Six get selected. Read more »

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Prison Food

This originally aired on The Final Straw radio show.
I’ve been locked up for twenty three years roughly. I’ve eaten more than 25,000 consecutive meals in state custody, and that means I’ve likely developed an immunity to just about every food-borne pathogen known to humans -bacterial, fungal, viral… you name it. Considering everything my digestive tract has been exposed to, I could probably eat machine parts and lead paint with a side order of radioactive isotopes, and I’d end up pooping out a tiny x-ray machine.
Whenever people write to me, the two most popular topics for inquiry are prison rape and prison food. Free world people seem concerned most about what’s getting shoved into either end of human captives. Let’s talk about the food.
In 23 years, I’ve witnessed the evolution of prison food delivery. With each successive “improvement” the food situation has gotten markedly worse. I can foresee a scenario where, if food service improves much more, all 50,000 of us Ohio captives could die of malnutrition, or food poisoning before the end of the next contract cycle… and thats coming from the guy who could snack on radioactive isotopes. Cesium 137, please mustard, hold the relish. Read more »

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